The office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) released its annual Special 301 report on Monday 30th of April. This report lists those countries that have “damaging” intellectual property policies on two separated “watch lists”: the Watch List and the Priority Watch List. Both are mechanisms used by the USTR to pressure foreign countries to introduce laws or adopt particular measures that protect copyright, trademark and patent. Being included on these list means that the USTR may impose sanctions, and despite this is not the case most of the times, it is used as an efficient strategy to make the countries involved change their intellectual property legislation.
The USTR has announced that “in recognition of Spain’s recent efforts with respect to IPR (Intellectual Property Rights) protection and enforcement, the United States has removed Spain from the Watch List.” This is good news for Spain’s economic interests, considering the Mediterranean country had been a part of this list since 2008.
According to the report, “the United States applauds Spain’s adoption of regulations implementing the “Ley Sinde”, a law to combat copyright piracy over the Internet.” This law, called after the government minister who promoted it, came into effect on March the 1st. Ever since, authors are entitled to report those web sites that infringe intellectual property.
It is remarkable that the USTR has taken this decision in spite of the recommendation of the IIPA (International Intellectual Property Alliance). Several members of this institution consider it is too soon to exclude Spain from the list.
From an opposite point of view, the Spanish government has described the decision as “very positive”, as it shows a clear commitment to guarantee IPR. Nonetheless, the United States is still concerned about the persecution of intellectual property infringements on the Internet in this country, and “urges Spain to take steps to remedy this significant problem.”
However, Spain will not be alone to face this struggle, for, as the report affirms, the United States will work with Spain to address these and other issues.
In this year’s Watch List there are only four European countries (Italy, Greece, Norway and Finland) whereas the ones included on the Priority Watch List are the following: Algeria, Argentina, Canada, Chile, China, India, Indonesia, Israel, Pakistan, Russia, Thailand, Ukraine and Venezuela.
Artículo ofrecido por LaBE Abogados Madrid